Get into Deleuze…

… boy you’ve got to prove your love to mee he hee heee

(If I ever teach philosophy, in their final assignment students will have to prove their grasp of their chosen philosopher by rewriting the lyrics of a popular song to reflect his or her key ideas. Marks will be given for concise expression, accurate exposition and maintaining the backbeat.)

I asked my social media friends (on Twitter and Facebook) for recommendations on where to start with the thought of Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) – a name I first started encountering in the early 90s. The edgy kids were all talking about Deleuze and Guattari‘s Anti-Oedipus (which I tried and failed to read) at the time. In the intervening years, he’s become more and more influential to contemporary thought and I’ve started to feel that I’m missing out by not at least trying to grok him a little.

So, thanks to @Eventmechanics, Dr Eimer and His Grace Dr Behun, His Grace Bishop Thomas Langley, Dr Ben Kraal, Trish Nowland and Orion Mitchell for their helpful suggestions. Here is a beginner’s introductory  list for CP302 – The Thought of Gilles Deleuze – my imaginary contemporary philosophy course.

To begin with, ABC Radio National’s “The Philosopher’s Zone” recently featured a two-part interview (part 1, part 2) between Alan Saunders and Robert Sinnerbrink from Macquarie Uni, so if you want to know what the fuss is about, that seems a good place to start.

When trying to understand a new philosopher, I almost always start with secondary sources, herewith…

Understanding Deleuze by Claire Colebrook (amzn – there’s a Kindle edition) got a couple of recommendations. Apparently, “Claire Colebrook has produced a truly accessible pathway into the labyrinthine enchantments offered for contemporary thought by Deleuzianism, making concepts clear, showing their political and theoretical complexity, elaborating their social and artistic relevance.” – according to one reviewer. She’s also written “Deleuze: A Guide for the Perplexed” – which is a little shorter.

Manuel DeLanda’s Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (amzn), provides what sounds like a good approach for people coming from the sciences, rather than the humanities. Here’s some blog traffic: “DeLanda couches Deleuze’s realist ontology in terms understandable not only to philosophers, but also to scientists. No easy task. But thanks to his efforts, I am for the first time convinced that there is some light for a realist ontology in science . It is an area that, ever since Nietzsche said: “There are no facts, only interpretations”, has looked very shaky.”

My tweep @Eventmechanics, suggested Signature of the World by Eric Alliez (pub) and especially the preface by Alberto Toscano as essential reading for Deleuze and Guattari (the other D+G) beginners. He also pointed out this review of the book by John Protevi that expresses some of the difficulties in representing GD’s work.

In terms of Deleuze’s actual works, here are some recommendations:

Kafka: toward a minor literature“, U of Minnesota Press, 1986 – at least the first section as an intro to earlier work

What is Philosophy?“, Verso, 1994 – as an intro to later work

Postscript on the Societies of ControlOctober, Vol. 59. (Winter, 1992), pp. 3-7.

Proust and Signs“, Athlone, 2000

Myself, after the ABC interview, I’m going to start on Colebrook and then jump straight into “Postscript on the Societies of Control” and see how I do. I hope this little summary is some use to someone else.

… always remember: you can dance… for inspiration

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